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We Are In This Together

by Elisa Rodriguez Gordon

March 8,2009

We are experiencing difficult times and an unprecedented economic downturn. We are concerned about our finances, our retirement, our job security and our children’s future. Most financial analysts don’t know when we will see improvement or results of the proposed stimulus packages. Historians indicate that no generation in recent times has experienced such a devastating financial situation. The bad news is everywhere.

In the current global economic situation, focusing only on the negative side can give us feelings of fear, anger, and sadness. These are normal feelings and we should do our best to control them with positive mental attitude, physical exercise, faith, hard work and humor. When I remember the can-do spirit and the many reasons I love the United States, I immediately feel better.

At a recent meeting with several foreign born friends, it was interesting to note that although we are all affected by the harsh economic downturn, we agreed that we have seen much worse in our native countries. This was said not in a spirit of consolation, but as a real fact. We unanimously agreed that we will not give up. We will not get overly sad or much less depressed. Our strongest link besides a common language is the love that we all have for this country.

As I left the meeting, I kept thinking about past experiences abroad. Just as a point of reference, in 1989 Argentina experienced a 200% devaluation in one month and 5,000% devaluation by the end of the year; Ecuador in the late 90’s had 52% inflation and a 65% devaluation of the currency; Venezuela, despite the oil boom, has carried 30% plus inflation and consumer prices rose to over 31 % in 2008.

Yes, many of my foreign born friends and I have seen a lot worse because in addition to these kinds of epic economic disasters, these countries have to deal with a combination of repression, political persecution, social unrest and violation of human rights. All these factors combine to not only perpetuate a “Third World” mentality, but to delay economic recovery, lower the moral composition of the society and to destroy freedom – all of which brings me to my point. Economic cycles come and go. A stable democracy and the respect of individual freedom is what made this country great from the beginning. It will make the difference as we all pull together to recover from the downturn.

Unlike most other countries, we in the United States are free to create different realities, to connect, to express ourselves, and to help those in need in our communities.

As bad as things are, let’s not forget that in November 2008 we had the opportunity to freely and peacefully participate in our democratic process. We elected new leaders that will guide our nation for the next four years. We made significant changes at all levels of government with overwhelming participation and double digit turnout at the polls. The 2008 election was certainly historic and unprecedented as well as a perfect example of democracy at its best.

One of the most amazing and powerful legacies we have as a nation is the creation by our forefathers of The Declaration of Independence. It declares “that some truths are self-evident, among these, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” There is no other Declaration of Independence such as this one in the world. Especially in times of crisis, we should remember it and re-read it with humility and a sense of discovery. Although it appears that the pursuit of happiness may not be so easily achieved as it has been in the last decade, with intention we can move forward “with firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, [and] mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our Sacred Honor.

History reminds us of the immense sacrifices made by our forefathers during the fight for freedom and independence. Our forefathers knew then that man cannot prosper without liberty. Their fight was not in vain. The United States of America is a country with a vision, purpose and a common goal. We are in this together.

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